Empathy | Open to Emotions
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | October 2018
Emotions can be powerful--so powerful we may avoid them and the people expressing them. Empathy is gained through openness to experience, one on one contact with the feeling experience of others.
Being in touch with personal feelings is essential to developing healthy empathy for others. If our own feelings are unacceptable, buried beneath protective layers, our ability to recognize emotional pain in others is blunted. The feelings we desperately hide become fearsome monsters. They frighten us. The discomfort confuses our system. As a child, we felt emotion, crying when discomforted; but messages from the adult world often discourage expressions of emotion, providing the child with little or no guidance to emotional processing. We do as told, running from feelings, burying experience, and living behind the cold layers of logic.
"The feelings we desperately hide become fearsome monsters."
As an adult, many of us live in the bleak greyness of words. The emotional explosions of others ignite uncomfortable swirls that we rather not feel. We point and laugh, denigrating the empath as broken, not whole like the unfeeling monsters that we are. We saw this last month in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Their smugness and ignorance to the emotional life of others. The president piped in with his insulting and twisted logic, “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.” The whole debacle, on both sides of the isle, displayed a lack of empathy, in exchange for political gains.
Can we change this closed-hearted world? Are we destined to an existence where an emoji is the depth of our emotional connection? We need more face to face emotional connections, escaping the me first psychology of the day. Others are extremely important. Our mental health relies on healthy connections, not logical dismissals. We must bathe in the swirling world of emotions, seeking connections where emotional expression is acceptable. We can enhance our journey by expanding our emotional vocabularies, understanding the nuances of feeling, and social niceties of expression.
Recognizing the emotional world of others, supporting them in their struggles doesn’t need to threaten our delicate ego. We can, even as adults, explore the world of emotions. We can feel and enjoy the emotional ups and downs of living—connecting, sharing and exploring this beautiful part of living.
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